"The other Masters athletes from Australia were great inspiration and support for me."
Sue Oakman is headed to her second CrossFit Games as a Masters athlete. In 2011, she went into the Open with the goal of qualifying for the Games. Once she achieved this, she set a new goal of making it to the final workout of the weekend. She achieved this as well and finished seventh overall.
Now, Oakman is heading to the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games and is eager to compete with the top Masters women in in the world.
How were you introduced to CrossFit?
I started in August 2009. It was suggested to me by a trainer of a boot camp because I wasn't getting a lot out of the boot camp at the time. So, my first workout was a form of Fight Gone Bad. I was pretty stuffed after it, but I went back for more and I was hooked.
What was your first CrossFit competition?
My first competition was at a local affiliate, and it was a lot of fun competing and the camaraderie was great. I finished eighth and the competition had double-unders in it, which I was really bad at, at the time. So, I was hooked. I just liked doing my best and I thought, ‘I want to win one of these one day.’
What was your sporting background before CrossFit?
In my teenage years, I did a lot of competitive netball and softball at representative level. I went to state athletics competitions for shot-put as a teenager. In my adult years just some club netball. Mostly just non-competitive training.
You qualified for the Masters division last year. Tell us about that.
I was pretty chuffed when they lowered the Masters age to 45 from 50 for last year’s Open.
I didn't really feel on top of my game at that stage. I wasn't at my fittest. That first WOD was two of my worst: snatch and double-unders. After that I think I was sitting at about [the] 50th position for the Masters and I thought, ‘I've blown this, it's a long way back up to the top 20.’ It felt like a real claw back from there.
Did you have hopes of qualifying at the start of the 2011 Open?
I did. I thought I did pretty well against a lot of the girls who are a lot younger, but there are some awesome people over 45 out there. I was a little disappointed at where I ended up after that first WOD, but I knew it wasn't my strength. I just got better and better each week. I managed to get there and just hang on. I finished No. 9 in the Open.
Tell us about going to the Games.
I can't even describe it, really. I had the time of my life. It was so awesome to compete against the other athletes. It was overwhelming in a way.
The only goal I had then was just to make the final because you got to do that in the big stadium rather than in the Masters area. The Masters area was great. The place was rocking all weekend. But we really wanted to get to the stadium to do a WOD. I was lucky enough to make the top eight and that was unbelievable. You felt like a rock star.
Did being in the big stadium with the fans and the cameras improve your performance? Do you think the pressure got to you?
I was too scared to really look up. There were a lot of people watching that I knew, like the team from the Gold Coast and a couple of the girls from Brisbane, and I just tried to focus. It was exciting, I had butterflies. I was trying not to make a mistake, but of course you do.
It was a blur. The WOD was so quick. It was an amazing feeling, the crowd, people cheering for you that don't even know you. Unbelievable, really.
Coming into this year’s Games season, was there something in particular you were focusing on to improve your results?
I tried to work on the things that needed tweaking. I focused on strength. I followed the [5/3/1] program for a little while. Front squats and bench press … things that would improve other weaknesses.
Lee, my coach at Crossfit Sunshine, has worked a lot on my technique with my lifting, and my lifting has improved a lot.
Do you feel pressure to perform this year?
Yes, there is some pressure to do better than last year. But it's mainly pressure from myself. I don't really know if I am fitter this year, but I finished the Open in a better position.
Is there a CrossFit competitor who you think is a particular inspiration?
The other Masters athletes from Australia were great inspiration and support for me.
Lynne Fitzharris from CrossFit Penrith in Sydney. We made a bit of a connection and she and I are very even on our stats. So, it was nice to have her there.
Also, Russell from Tasmania. It was nice to have him around because he is just an awesome guy. All of the Masters are an inspiration.
What are your goals for this year’s Games?
I finished seventh at the Games last year, and I qualified seventh for them this year. I don't want to be stuck with that number forever. The goal is to make the top three. I might not make it this year, but I will be doing everything I can to make that podium.
Do you think it is a disadvantage having to travel from Australia to California?
Last year, I went a bit too soon. I went a week and a half before, and I got sick. This year, I am going three days before and I'll see how it goes.
I think it is a disadvantage traveling. Most of the competitors last year were shocked that we had come all the way from Australia.